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Exploring Animal Sentience with Jonathan Balcombe



In the latest episode of the Plant Based On Fire podcast, Bryan sits down with Jonathan Balcombe, an acclaimed ethologist, animal behavior expert, and author. Jonathan's journey, driven by his early love for animals and his dedication to animal advocacy, offers valuable lessons for plant-based entrepreneurs and advocates. His work bridges the gap between scientific research and ethical living, making his insights particularly relevant for those in the plant-based business world.


Jonathan Balcombe: A Lifelong Passion for Animals


Jonathan Balcombe's fascination with animals began at a young age.

"I knew I loved animals from my earliest memory,"

he shares, recounting formative experiences like visiting the London Zoo and meeting a hippopotamus named Nada the Lily in New Zealand. These early encounters sparked a lifelong interest in animal behavior and protection.


Jonathan's journey to veganism started in the 1980s, driven by his realization that it was inconsistent to eat animals while studying their behavior.

"By then, I knew that animals were sentient like I was. I knew that concept of being able to feel things – pain, pleasure, emotions,"

he explains. This ethical awareness led him to adopt a vegetarian diet in 1984 and to go fully vegan in 1989.


Leveraging Science for Animal Advocacy


With a PhD in ethology, the study of animal behavior, Jonathan has dedicated his career to animal protection. His work includes teaching courses on animal sentience, serving as Associate Editor for the journal Animal Sentience, and writing several influential books. His New York Times bestseller, What a Fish Knows, explores the sentience of fishes, while Super Fly delves into the lives of insects.


Jonathan emphasizes the importance of understanding animal sentience in promoting ethical treatment.

"Sentience is the bedrock of ethics,"

he says, highlighting research that shows even invertebrates like insects and crustaceans are sentient. This understanding informs how we should interact with and treat these creatures.


Insights You'll Gain From This Episode


  1. Animal Sentience: Discover the profound capacity of animals to feel pain, pleasure, and emotions.

  2. Ethical Implications: Learn about the moral considerations of recognizing animal sentience and its impact on our treatment of animals.

  3. Environmental Impact: Understand the broader implications of dietary choices on planetary health.

  4. Scientific Advocacy: Explore how leveraging scientific research can promote animal welfare and ethical living.

  5. Writing Process: Gain insights into Jonathan's method for researching and writing impactful books.


The Importance of Ethical Living


Jonathan's advocacy extends beyond scientific research to practical lifestyle changes. He emphasizes the environmental benefits of a plant-based diet, noting the significant impact of animal agriculture on the planet.

"We've emerged from that blind era,"

he says, referring to increased awareness of the environmental implications of dietary choices.


Jonathan also addresses the growing field of insect farming and the ethical questions it raises.

"If a little insect can feel pain in a way comparable to what we can feel, then the ethical implications are considerable,"

he explains.


Key Takeaways for Plant-Based Entrepreneurs


For plant-based business people, Jonathan's journey offers several key lessons:

  1. Follow Your Passion: Let your love for animals and ethical living drive your professional pursuits.

  2. Leverage Science: Use scientific research to inform and advocate for ethical practices.

  3. Educate Through Storytelling: Combine personal anecdotes with scientific facts to engage and educate a broader audience.

  4. Promote Sustainability: Highlight the environmental benefits of plant-based living to appeal to conscious consumers.

  5. Engage the Community: Build a supportive network and engage with the community to amplify your message and drive positive change.


Jonathan Balcombe's dedication to understanding and advocating for animals offers a powerful example of how science can be leveraged to promote ethical living. His insights into animal sentience, environmental impact, and the importance of storytelling in advocacy are invaluable for anyone in the plant-based business world. Tune into this enlightening episode of Plant Based On Fire to learn more about Jonathan's inspiring journey and how you can apply these lessons to your own endeavors.


Visit Jonathan's website at www.jonathanbalcombe.com for more information about his work and upcoming projects.

Subscribe to the Plant-Based On Fire podcast on YouTube or your favorite streaming platform today and stay connected with our ongoing exploration of the complex plant-based business world.


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Episode’s Transcript

Please understand that a transcription service provided the transcript below. It undoubtedly contains errors that invariably take place in voice transcriptions.


Bryan (00:00)

Hello everybody and welcome to Plant Based on Fire, where we talk about plant based businesses and their inspiring stories to thrive in our industry. I am your host Bryan and joining us today is Jonathan Balcombe, who has a wealth of experience in ethology, animal behavior and advocacy through writing and speaking. And so he's got a New York Times bestseller available in almost 16 different languages. So I feel very privileged to have you on the show. Welcome Jonathan.


Jonathan Balcombe (00:31)

Thanks, Bryan. It's great to be here.


Bryan (00:33)

I have just been checking out some of your different books on Amazon and stuff, but I want to take us back to the beginning of this a little bit. What were some of the formative experiences that sort of led to you dedicating your life to studying the animals and behavior and promoting the animal protection?


Jonathan Balcombe (00:51)

I knew I loved animals from my earliest memory. My parents cultivated that. They took me to the London Zoo. I was born in England and that was probably the beginning. And then it turns out it was in New Zealand. We moved to New Zealand when I was three and we went to New Zealand Zoo and that's where I met a hippopotamus named Nada the Lily. Now I asked my 90 year old mother why she was called Nada the Lily. She didn't know why Nada, but...


I'm trying to think now why it was Lily as well, but anyway, not of the Lily was the name, it was this hippopotamus. And I remember the hippo, she was one of two hippos there and she was the more outgoing and she would approach the area where the keeper would either offer someone to toss a cabbage into her mouth or he would toss it in himself. She knew the drill, she'd walk over and she'd open her huge mouth, anyone who knows hippos knows they have massive, massive great mouths that can open wide.


Bryan (01:21)

Heheheheh


Yeah.


Jonathan Balcombe (01:47)

And I'll never forget the sight of this green fresh cabbage being tossed in and kind of crunched and chomped and the rivulets of cabbage juice trickling into her pink mouth. And this was like vast universe of pink flesh, which was her mouth. And I still remember that, you know, and it was obviously formative for me. And so we did a lot of traveling and we did a lot of visiting nature. And I was always of the three kids, I was always the one who was most


Bryan (02:02)

Mm -hmm.


Jonathan Balcombe (02:17)

interested in and maybe I have not to thank for getting that started, but I never looked back from there. I always knew that animals were my thing and I wanted to either work with them and or study them as a grown -up.


Bryan (02:22)

Awesome.


I love it. I know my kid's favorite song is I want to hit the Potamus for Christmas. So there's some similar veins there. That's a great little cute song for the kids too. And so you have been doing this from a very, very young age and then you jumped into veganism, I think in the late eighties. How has that helped shape and influence your professional pursuits?


Jonathan Balcombe (02:37)

Yes.


Sure, well by the time I was into my mid early mid -20s and a graduate student I'd come to the realization that it was not very consistent of me to continue to eat the subjects of my interest. By then I knew that animals were sentient like I was. I knew what that I knew that concept of being able to feel things pain, pleasure, emotions, it was manifestly the case that they also felt that. Of course we can argue about where to draw the line but so I knew that I didn't want to eat them.


And so that made me a vegetarian. And the critical thinking that went into becoming a vegetarian soon informed the decision to go vegan, to stop eating any animal products, because the animals we raise for meat, for milk and eggs and dairy products, they also go to the slaughterhouse. And so it's a very final end for them as well in that industry. And some people argue that that's even worse for them because of how they're treated in the meantime. So.


So it was a very logical progression of ethical awareness that led me to vegetarianism and then veganism.


Bryan (04:00)

Yeah. I, for me, it was the health thing. And then it's just such a big thing about the environment, but I have come around to the animal side of it so, so much over the years I've been doing this show and the podcast and stuff. So I'm curious if we can discuss that sort of line a little bit, you know, cause I think you've done a lot of your research on animal sentience and, and so could you, do you mind sharing a few of those?


key research points that have maybe a little bit more profound impact on how we should treat the animals.


Jonathan Balcombe (04:30)

Sure, I mean, you mentioned the environment before getting into the whole sentience thing. I mean, it was in the 90s and maybe even earlier when people who were vegan and thinking critically about these things were fully aware of the environmental impacts. And it was such a frustrating time because you'd read articles about veganism or dietary choices. Great as far as that goes. But there was never any link to the broader implications for the planet and planetary health.


And, you know, thankfully we've emerged from that blind era, at least now, and it's talked about a lot. And anyone who's got their eyes or ears open and keeping an eye on the news knows that there's real environmental implications. Of course, there are huge forces, powerful forces trying to block that kind of information getting out, but it's all over the place. And thankfully for that, there's still a long way to go and there's still this incredible...


cognitive dissonance that people want to defend their eating habits and because it's very near and dear to their hearts. I get that part of it. But you know, the naivete about how delicious vegan food is, people don't realize they think it's a big sacrifice. my God, if only you knew, right, the food we eat. So good. I can't stop. I may look skinny and like I don't eat much, but I'm not quite sure why, but I eat a lot of food and it just seems to go straight through me. So we're.


Bryan (05:45)

Yeah. Yes.


Me too. Yes.


Jonathan Balcombe (05:58)

Which I guess is the whole idea. But anyway, if that inspires envy in some people who are trying to lose weight, all the better. I'll be going to a vegan summer fest in a month's time. And the food that we're served there is, which is all cooked by someone else. I love, my partner and I, we love cooking and baking. She's a better baker than I am though. But we love the food that we cook, but it's also a real treat to be, have someone else do all the preparation. Now into sentience.


Bryan (06:27)

Yes.


Jonathan Balcombe (06:28)

In my view, sentience is the bedrock of ethics, the foundation of why we have a sense of right and wrong, good and bad, deciding on what's the right choice of an action to take is that others feel, and I mean others in the collective sense, not just other people, but other creatures, be they fishes, mammals, birds, and increasingly invertebrates, there's growing evidence that...


Some animals without backbones, maybe them all, but certainly some of them, insects, crustaceans, mollusks, there's growing evidence that they too are sentient. So that's a very interesting development and it informs how we should interact and treat them. And now that we're in an era where insect farming is becoming a big deal, the questions of insect sentience are becoming very important.


Same with sentience of squids, octopuses, crabs, lobsters. I mean, these are animals that are eaten in large numbers by us, not so much insects, or so people think, but now insect farming is growing rapidly, both for feed for livestock that we eat, of course, but also as direct food sources, crickets and fly maggots, believe it or not. They're roasted and...


mixed into foods that people are eating. And because they're so small, we're talking not billions, but trillions of these creatures. And this is just an industry that's getting rolling. So it's an important time to be talking about this stuff, because if a little insect can feel pain in a way comparable to what we can feel, and that's still very much open to scientific debate, then the ethical implications are considerable. But there's no question about sentience in all of the vertebrate groups.


Bryan (08:20)

Mm -hmm.


Jonathan Balcombe (08:24)

In my book, What a Fish Knows, I talk about the studies showing pain and nociception, the capacity to feel things, also stress, psychological pain, if you like. These animals are incredibly, so much more sophisticated than we give them credit for. And the methods we catch them are completely a blind to that. Catching, you know, 10 ,000 fishes in one net, hauling it up from the depths, in which case they suffer from decompression, crushing.


blood loss on the boat deck if their gills are sliced or suffocation. Not a very nice way to go. I wouldn't think so. Not something I'd wish on my worst enemies. So these are very huge global profound issues, both ethically and as we already said, environmentally as well.


Bryan (09:04)

Yeah.


Yeah, I mean, that's one of my biggest fears is we're worried about the climate temperature pieces of it. But I feel like we are sucking so many fish and crustaceans out of the ocean that we may just rip that dry and kill the planet off before we even worry about the temperature getting too hot for us. I mean, that is happening very, very, very fast, in my opinion. And, you know, I don't eat meat, but I do eat fish. And that's the age old question for a lot of.


I encounter. So yeah, I really...


Jonathan Balcombe (09:42)

You're saying that for you or what people say to you? I wanted to...


Bryan (09:47)

What people say to me, you know, I I never be vegan. I can let you know you're you're the vegan Brian. Bryan. have to have my fish now and then for my omegas or whatever silly story they say. So, yeah. Yeah. Right. Yes, I agree. Well, I commend you on dedicating your life to this field of research and study. And how many books have you written and contributed to? And how do you believe believe books have have?


Jonathan Balcombe (09:56)

Yeah, the whole nutritional arguments that are very clearly on our side.


Bryan (10:16)

change perceptions about animals and helping to promote maybe a few more people to a plant -based lifestyle.


Jonathan Balcombe (10:22)

Yeah, I'm currently working on my seventh book, which is my sixth book for grownup readers. I have written one children's book called Jake and Ava, A Boy and a Fish, which is about a boy's first trip out fishing with his granddad and a fish who's out trying to catch insects for the first time with her uncle. And so the stories are parallel and they coalesce, they combine near the end, they meet when the boy catches the fish and it becomes a story of empathy.


I'll say no more than that, but it certainly resonates with my experience as a child and I think quite a lot of people. The rest of my books are, as I say, for grownups in the popular science genre, which is to say they're driven by science. But I've learned as an author that while you can reach here with the science, people's heads, if you want to reach their hearts, you're better off also telling stories. So I've learned to share personal accounts as well as those of others.


Bryan (10:59)

I love it.


Jonathan Balcombe (11:22)

in getting people to connect with the realities of life for these creatures. And when I say the realities, I don't mean they're necessarily hard lies. They can be wonderful lies. And in fact, the book I'm working on now will explore that. But the book Superfly explores a group of very unpopular animals, but one that everybody's had experiences with, because if you've been bitten by a mosquito or harassed by one, if you've been harassed by one, you've been bitten by one.


course, they're so good at what they do. Difficult job description, of course, you know, go and bite that person or that creature and take their blood and try not to get smacked while you're at it. And that's a challenge. And yet they do it. But writing about flies is a lot of fun, but that's a tough sell. Fishes have been a better sell in terms of the success of a book in terms of readership. But my main mission in writing my books is to leverage the science to hopefully


Bryan (11:49)

Yes.


Right. Yeah.


Yes.


Jonathan Balcombe (12:17)

get people connecting with these creatures and realizing that they're not so different from us as we thought. And of course, it's not all about how human they are. These creatures do amazing things in their own right that are often beyond the realms of what we're capable of doing because of their different sensory systems, their different physical capabilities. But there's also parallels, like the fact that fishes will fall for the same optical illusions that we do. And that's really kind of...


Bryan (12:30)

Mm -hmm.


Jonathan Balcombe (12:47)

It's poignant, I think, because it shows that a fish has beliefs and that those beliefs are fallible and that they can be fooled by something. And of course, that's evident throughout nature. A lot of animals use deceptions to manipulate others in good or not so good ways, depending on the situation. So, you know, back to the core of the question.


Bryan (12:50)

Mm -hmm.


Jonathan Balcombe (13:13)

it's important to explain what a lot of this science is saying, because a lot of the science is restricted primarily to the scholarly journals where the jargon filled writing and people don't generally end up reading that stuff. So I tried to be a bridge between that and popular science and readable material so that they can absorb the information that's out there.


Bryan (13:26)

Mm -hmm.


I love it. Yeah, well done. I will have to check out that book for my daughter for sure. And it's curious because I had another gentleman on maybe a couple of months back and he's creating all the meat alternatives with mycelium and stuff. And that's really this whole third world. We say the animal and the plant kingdom, but there's the whole fungi kingdom as well. That's the third component to our planet. So any thoughts on tackling the fungi realm a little bit?


Jonathan Balcombe (14:06)

Yeah, I mean, I thought Merlin Sheldrake, who I've never met. I've met his dad, Rupert Sheldrake, who's written some fascinating stuff himself. But I thought he did a very good job with Entangled Life, his book about the whole fungal thing. We had Peter Wal -Levin's The Hidden Life of Trees, which caught the worldwide storm a few years ago. And now we have this wonderful book about fungi and how, as you say, it's a whole different kingdom or queendom, if we prefer.


Bryan (14:33)

Mm -hmm.


Jonathan Balcombe (14:33)

which connects these mycelia that are throughout the earth and they connect plants to each other and they can communicate that way. It's a fantastic realm and it's something that we've until very recently mostly overlooked. We're fungi and our interests lay mostly in the kitchen or in the recreational realm of magic mushrooms. And now we have a lot more magic coming out of the fungal world.


Bryan (14:44)

Mm -hmm.


Yeah.


Jonathan Balcombe (15:03)

And it's very exciting and heartwarming to know that this sophisticated planet in which evolution has the luxury of tens, hundreds of millions of years to work with the raw materials. And as those materials become more complex, there's more options for mutualisms and entangled. It's a nice word, entangled relationships out there. And it's all the more reason to realize that we need to stop.


Bryan (15:03)

for sure.


Mm -hmm.


I agree.


Jonathan Balcombe (15:31)

thinking that we're above it all and ransacking it. We need to step back and look at our numbers for one thing and realize that, you know, 8 billion is not really sustainable. People say, you know, innovation will get us through, but tell that to the 4 % of wildlife that's left. Wildlife by biomass on land makes up only 4 % now. When I learned that, I was really quite shocked for all the masses of birds, wild birds collectively are about one third.


Bryan (15:33)

Yeah.


That's right. Yeah.


Jonathan Balcombe (16:00)

the masses of the poultry that we are currently raising in big sheds to be slaughtered and eaten by humans. Something very wrong with that picture.


Bryan (16:06)

I agree completely. I'm going to try and keep us back on the business side of this a little bit, although I could sit here and talk to you about those couple of topics for another hour for sure. Because I have to throw it out there because I'm the big sci -fi guy and we are the Avatar planet. We just don't realize it and we are destroying it with our bulldozers on a daily basis. But I want to take respect to the writing process of creating these amazing books. These...


Jonathan Balcombe (16:27)

You


Bryan (16:36)

bestsellers and stuff. Can you give us a little hint into what's the process and how you go about researching and writing books like Superfly and What a Fish?


Jonathan Balcombe (16:44)

Yeah, perhaps the most important step, it's kind of obvious, is coming up with a topic that's timely and doable. I say doable, sometimes there's a topic that's very appealing to me, but I feel like there's not maybe enough material out there yet to justify or to fill a book with interesting material. That may be my own limitation rather than the topics, but certainly picking a topic is very important. And then,


But once that's done, and all the better if I have a book contract. I recently signed a contract with a publisher for the book I'm working on, which is great because that puts a fire under one's feet. Not always great because it's like you've got a deadline, exactly. But you work with what you've got and you certainly try to play a role in how much time you have to do. You have to play a role in that because only the writer knows how much time they need for a given project. And then I think of myself as I turn into a sponge. I stop being a human, I become a sponge.


Bryan (17:18)

Yes, some deadlines. Yes.


Jonathan Balcombe (17:38)

I guess a human sponge, because I just absorb everything that's relevant. I read widely, I talk to people, I try to, I get out in nature because nature always has lessons whenever I go out, so often it'll inspire me, something relevant to the topic of the day. And then just absorb and one needs a table of contents, it's like a roadmap, but be prepared for it to evolve and change. Stuff falls by the wayside, new topics come in.


You have to juggle, you have to reassign. It's a very organic process, at least for me. But all that material soaked into the sponge gets put into a master document. There's a growing discard pile all the time, which sometimes I'll go back to and say, wait a minute, why did I discard that? That's really relevant. Let's bring it back in. So it's two to three years of really, for me anyway, of really organic sponge -like, constantly changing, but constantly accumulating.


process and then perhaps one of the more rewarding parts, although I enjoy the research and compilation of information, but it's also very challenging but enjoyable to synthesize and to organize and to polish and to start getting it into, you know, right now it's get it down on paper and then, or at least on laptop screen, and then it's organized into a flow, into a so -called narrative art.


So that's kind of my process and I've never studied how others do it, but I'm sure there's a lot of variety in that and a lot of overlap too.


Bryan (19:08)

Yeah, and I like to point out in today's day and age, me as the computer geek, that the AI generated stuff is just taking that corpus of knowledge that's already been created by amazing people like you and mixing it up. So to get these new ideas, you do have to get out into nature. You do have to do the research and put A and B together plus C and come up with something new and unique on that front. So I appreciate.


your work in a big, big way in this rapidly changing world of AI, for sure. Is there any advice you'd give to some aspiring authors that might be watching this podcast? Like, if they haven't, they're afraid of starting their book, or just some tips on how do they get started in writing about science or animal protection?


Jonathan Balcombe (19:56)

For sure, I mean, certainly I'd say above anything else, pick a topic that you're passionate about, that you yourself feel in your heart, that you get excited about. That's gonna shine through in your writing. And then like, again, I would recommend doing it as I do, because since I do it, that's the best way for me, but that may be different for other people. You know, be the sponge.


Come up with, if you can, as soon as you can, but maybe sometime after you start accumulating information, but come up with a table of contents, what you envisioned that that part of the book would be the beginning where it tells you what the chapters are and what pages. And it doesn't matter. It doesn't need to be complete. It won't be complete. It's going to change, but it gives you some direction. And then from then on, it's like an interplay between the material you compile and your table of contents and be prepared to change both.


to adapt both to the other. They're both changing as you go. So maybe a bit of a repetitive answer in that. But, you know, and yeah, and just talk to people, get feedback, you know, by all means, especially if you're a new author, send some samples to other people and let them read it and give you constructive feedback. People who you like and whose advice you value, of course, and that's important.


Bryan (20:59)

Yeah, different way to look at it. Yeah.


Jonathan Balcombe (21:19)

need to be a bit discerning in that regard. But the more variety in the people you read, the more wider readership you may be able to reach in the long run.


Bryan (21:28)

I agree. And I guess, you know, for me, I've been on my plant -based journey for about 14 years now. So you've got me beat by a long shot. Congratulations. Well, that too, but you've been doing this quite a while. So I'm curious if you can help unpack based on your experience and wisdom here, what strategies have you found that are the most effective in advocating for the animals?


Jonathan Balcombe (21:39)

I'm older than you.


It's a great question and not an easy one to answer. You know, we only get one life to live as an individual. So, you know, there's probably many, there's definitely many paths one can take. For me, I've tried to use my scientific training. So I have three degrees in biology, including a PhD. And that helps in terms of credibility as an expert. But also it's allowed me to learn things that I might not otherwise have learned that are very relevant to.


what I write about. So I channeled my passion into working for animal protection organizations, primarily throughout my year, my career. But I also learned during that process that I was quite good at writing and quite good at synthesizing information from various angles and putting them into one place, i .e. a book. I do some public speaking as well, which I think is a useful tool for disseminating information, but I'm most proud of and most passionate about my writing.


Part of that is that it has permanence. I mean, YouTube gives us the opportunity to be somewhat permanent with what we speak about, but having books out there is very gratifying knowing that people are at any time able to pick up my material and learn from that. So that's kind of been my approach.


Bryan (23:13)

I love it. And I know you've mentioned a couple a couple one in the in the fungi world that I've inspired you a little bit. Who are some of your other bigger influences and inspirations?


Jonathan Balcombe (23:24)

Yeah, certainly Charles Darwin is sort of the granddaddy, the great great granddaddy of all of that stuff. People like Mark Backoff and Jane Goodall, you know, picking names. There's so many important ones and they never come to my mind when I want them to. But, you know, I've gone to quite a lot of conferences and you meet some luminaries there and people who are thinking in interesting ways about things. But...


Bryan (23:30)

Of course, yeah.


That's okay.


Jonathan Balcombe (23:54)

Certainly reading widely is helpful. People like the ones I just mentioned, they're in my field, they're animal behavior primarily. So it's important to read them, but it's also important to get beyond that reading novels. I just finished reading a book by Robert Sapolsky called Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers, which is primarily about stress and its role in just about everything. How stress is a generally negative contributor to...


Bryan (23:57)

Yeah.


Mm -hmm.


Jonathan Balcombe (24:23)

So many health issues and minimizing stress is a good strategy if you want to live a longer, healthier life. I'm still working on that, so.


Bryan (24:32)

Yeah, we all are for sure. I know I need to do more meditation and breathing sometimes on certain days, especially. So what is your hopes and your vision for the future in terms of animal protection and that animal -human dynamic?


Jonathan Balcombe (24:38)

yeah join the club


A couple of basic things, as we've already touched on, changing our eating habits. You know, plant -based is what it's got to be. That 4 % of wildlife, by the way, the other 96 % are 36 % humans, and 60 % livestock is the term that was used in the article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences back in 1998, back in 2018, a very influential, prestigious journal.


Bryan (25:12)

Ahem.


Jonathan Balcombe (25:20)

Clearly, there's too many people, too many humans. That's not an anti -human statement because there's too many people. We have the crises we have, we have weather changes, we have mass migration events. It's not pro -human to want more growth. It's actually blind to the realities that we need to curb our populations. And of course, it just follows from that that 60 % livestock, my goodness, that's just a, there's a huge number of animals who are living.


pretty lousy lives and early deaths so that we can eat them. And we already know it's not good for our health. We already know it's not good for the planet. We already know it's certainly not good for the animals we were killing to eat. So those two things are cardinal in my mind. Getting, reigning in our growing population and reigning in or changing or testing our diet. And there are many exciting things happening on the ladder of those two, which is very important.


Bryan (26:01)

Sorry.


Jonathan Balcombe (26:18)

We're still kind of head in the sand on human overpopulation. But I've told myself I need to start talking about that in interviews like this because it's just gotta be on the agenda and it's not anti -human to be.


Bryan (26:28)

Yeah.


It is. We have to be shouting it from the rooftops even more than we already are. All of us that understand it and get it on that front. And all the research that I've been trying to read is just that we're passing tipping point after tipping point like dominoes so quick. So that's what, as a guy who has a, it's such a, I have a brand new newborn at home right now. And I just, I fear that in 20 years when,


Jonathan Balcombe (26:50)

I'm glad to hear you're receptive to that.


congratulations.


Bryan (27:01)

2050 comes and we have no fish left or something. The economic, the environmental collapses that are potentially there will definitely control the human population really rapidly, unfortunately.


Jonathan Balcombe (27:11)

Yeah, yeah, there is no question the human population is going to decline at some point. The question is whether it will be on our terms or nature's terms. And if it's the latter, it probably won't be a particularly pretty picture.


Bryan (27:16)

Mm -hmm.


That's right.


That's right. Yep. What are you, how can we help you? What can this community do that's watching this great interview? When does your new book, hoping to get done and what's your latest book that we should go and check out right now?


Jonathan Balcombe (27:36)

Well, you're certainly already helping me because being on your program, people hear about my work, which is much appreciated. My next book is tentatively scheduled for release sometime in twenty twenty seven, which seems like so far off. But as we get older, we know how quickly two, two and a half years rolls around. Yeah. As for what I've currently done, I think very few people are aware of my children's book. And I'd love to be more widely read because I think there's a lot of people for whom the


Bryan (27:55)

That's right, that's right.


Jonathan Balcombe (28:06)

the empathy issue resonates with childhood activities where we feel grown up social pressure to engage in something fishing in this case, which interestingly, despite it being such a really kind of a brutal art, is sort of treasured as a sentimental mom's apple pie type kind of phenomenon. So, you know, look beneath the surface and it's pretty brutal, you know, what we do. So I would love more people to...


to buy my book and pass it on to family members and parents and children, of course, parents with children.


Bryan (28:43)

So I love it. Go buy 20 copies and hand them out as Christmas presents, everybody, for sure.


Jonathan Balcombe (28:48)

Yeah, but you know, all our authors want people to read their books. I certainly understand that not everyone has time to read everything, but certainly supporting an author's books is a great way to do them a favor. But I don't write these books for money or to sell for their own sake. It's to change behavior and awareness, of course.


Bryan (29:03)

That's right.


Yeah. And please email the team here and we'll make sure your book links are in the show notes as we publish this episode. So check the show notes, everybody. And Jonathan, how can people that want to learn more or have a conversation with you get in touch?


Jonathan Balcombe (29:19)

Okay.


You can go to my website, www .johnathanbalcom .com, and I do print and put on there or through there a bi -monthly newsletter called All Things Fishes and Flies, because I've added flies to that. And that's a way to keep in touch with what I'm up to and some new interesting new news coming through the pipeline. Also, always a joke, always a little bit of humor in the video as well.


Bryan (29:41)

Hehehe.


Jonathan Balcombe (29:53)

You know, you've got to keep people entertained and coming back. I realize the importance of that. And yeah, reading my books is always a good way to get a better idea of what I'm about and what's going on in the world of animal behavior.


Bryan (30:05)

I love it. And spell that for the people that might not have access to it. They're listening on their run or they're listening in the car.


Jonathan Balcombe (30:07)

Sure.


www .johnathan .com is my website.


Bryan (30:23)

We'll make sure that's in the show notes as well. And that is all the time we have for this episode of Plant Based on Fire. So thank you so much, Jonathan. We really appreciate you joining us, sharing your insights and experiences with our community.


Jonathan Balcombe (30:36)

Thanks, Bryan, that was the fastest 30 minutes of my day.


Bryan (30:39)

Great, it goes by so fast. Until next time everybody, keep that fire burning.


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